Counting the Cost
February 23, 2011
On Friday, I sat down and went through all the data to see if any of the soap that I tested was wonderful enough to take to market. I did a qualitative assessment to come to my own conclusions. Charlie is going through the same process right now, but in a quantitative way. I’m the Liberal Arts to his Math. I’m waiting for the go/no go from him to see if it makes sense to move forward from a quantitative perspective.
But, I’m already counting the cost.
From the numbers that I calculated, it will take five years for us to build the business to the place where we would be at half of Charlie’s salary.
The financial outlay in the first year will be roughly three times what I had thought it would be.
It’s tough going. The owners of Fair Trade companies that I’ve talked with have told me that. Wonderfully rewarding, but tough going.
Due to the high cost of raw ingredients, I will have to charge a much higher cost to my customers. Is the market ready for that?
I will be signing on for (at least) a part-time job over the next year. I think that we would re-assess after a year to see how things are going, then move toward whatever made the most sense. But, the initial commitment would be for a year. How do I homeschool my kids with a job? Lots of people do it, but this would definitely mean that I have to give up my addiction to people.com. Sigh.
Space. In order to get better pricing on the oils, I would be ordering a flat of olive oil and one to two barrels of coconut oil. The shea butter takes up less space- maybe a couple of shelves. Soap would be taking over our garage.
Time and work. I would be making roughly 50 pounds of soap a week for 49 weeks a year. That’s just producing the product. Then, there’s marketing and shipping and customer service and accounting. And I have to be nice to complaining customers. I’m not the greatest ass kisser, and I would need to develop that skill. Cringe. Can I do all that and still give my children what they need? Can I do all that and still be a kind mother?
So, I’m nervous. Thinking about what I’m signing on for over the next year. Thinking about the fact that in five years, if all goes well, we would be at 50% of Charlie’s salary. How in the world will I homeschool the kids and run a business? Lots of people have figured it out, but can I?
At the same time, this is something that I can do. I can make soap and help to create demand for oils that give people a way to make a living wage. I have the ability to do that. The issue of human trafficking eats at my soul. The issue of people living in poverty with no hope also eats at my soul. The more I read, the more I feel a sense of urgency to get into the game. The question is if this is the game that I’m supposed to get into.